Jamaica heading down the wrong path

July 22, 2016
A policeman looks at the vehicle in which eight persons were travelling when it careened into the Rio Cobre last Saturday.

As I write this, I feel like a scratched record. Well, maybe déjà vu is what I am experiencing because I feel like I have gone this way before; said these very same things many times before.

In the last couple weeks we have seen reports of a three-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in St Ann. We also saw reports of a Suzuki Vitara going off the Flat Bridge and only two of eight persons managed to survive. What else?

Oh, police kill a youngster in West Kingston, and in response gunmen took on the police in that community. Yes, and a security guard killed his significant other and then took his own life, something that has been happening a bit too frequently these days. It wasn’t that long ago that a former policeman shot his girlfriend and killed himself in St Elizabeth.

Generally, there has been an explosion of crime and violence across the island that, in many instances, don’t make sense.

But this has been the case with Jamaica for a while now.

When Professor Fred Hickling made his pronouncements a few years ago that a significant percentage of Jamaica’s population suffered from some form of mental illness we all scoffed and went on about our daily lives as if he was the mad man.

But as time as passed we are finding out that perhaps there is some merit to what he said.

We tend to believe that mental strain is something that we can just ignore until it goes away, but it doesn’t.

People are cracking right before our eyes. How bad could things be for that security guard to kill his common-law wife before taking his own life? Obviously, he must have been going through a lot without any help before he snapped.

What is also obvious is that he was also in denial, something we are very fond of doing.

Take, for example, the incident at Flat Bridge. Reports are that the driver of the vehicle was trying to overtake a line of vehicles when it plunged into the river. Now, whether that is true or not, what I do know is that whenever someone runs off that road and into the river they were more often or not doing something silly. They were either speeding or doing something contrary to the road code.

But instead of steering the resulting conversation towards Jamaicans employing greater discipline on the roads, what we have opted to do is to discuss whether to do something about the bridge. To me, that is just bloody crazy.

I have a friend who has lived in Linstead all her life, and since maybe the mid-1980s or perhaps even before that she has been travelling to Spanish Town and Kingston for school and subsequently work. If something was wrong with the bridge, why is she still alive today?

Don’t you see that the way we think is the way crazy people think? Based on the available data, my suggestion is that maybe people should be more careful on the roads, and maybe, just maybe, there wouldn’t be so many fatalities on the Flat Bridge?

Another sign of our collective mental dysfunctionality is how we treat situations like that of the little girl who was sexually assaulted and murdered in St Ann. Why would anyone think it would be prudent to post pictures of the child’s body on social media?

Why wouldn’t we think that the child’s relatives would be affected by this callous practise that we take on whenever we come upon a murder scene? What makes us believe this is something people want to see? Are we so emotionally naïve that we fail to understand the impact that these images have on people?

The only way to explain these things is that we are delving deeper and deeper into the madness and it makes me wonder just how bad it will get before we somehow wake up and see where we are headed.

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